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Campaigning ends in Delhi

November 29, 2003 20:54 IST

Loudspeakers and drums fell silent in Delhi as the clock struck 5 pm November 29, marking an end to campaigning for the December 1 assembly election.

As the deadline drew nearer, candidates raced against time to reach the maximum electorate possible, holding street corner meetings and going door-to-door to woo voters. Among several last minute public meetings was a rally addressed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in a West Delhi neighbourhood in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party nominee.

A low-key affair initially, campaigning picked up later with both the Congress and BJP unleashing their top leaders and roping in movie stars, both current and of the yesteryears, their duplicates, cricketers and even magicians.

Making desperate efforts to grab power in the polls to the 70-member assembly, the two parties indulged in mudslinging and claimed credit for all development while attributing the failures to their opponents.

The BJP, which is making an all-out effort to regain power in the national capital after five years, launched an aggressive campaign, contending it understood the problems of Delhiites.

The party held over 500 public meetings, including three addressed by Vajpayee, 10 by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and scores by party chief M Venkaiah Naidu and other senior leaders. Adding a tinge of glamour to the campaign were 'dream girl' Hema Malini, the party's film-star members Vinod Khanna and Dara Singh and small-screen stars like bahu Smriti Z Irani and Aman Verma of TV soap opera Kyun ki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi.

The Congress campaign was led by party president Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. With several opinion polls giving the Congress a sizeable lead, the BJP tried to corner the ruling party by highlighting the "failures" of the government, particularly in power, water, education and health sectors.

The party also raked up the issue of outbreak of dengue recently in Delhi and the infamous tandoor murder case in which former Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma was sentenced to death.

The Congress, on the other hand, highlighted the developmental works undertaken by its government during the last five years and sought another chance to "complete the unfinished tasks".

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